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Could Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) have her eyes on a change of address to Drumthwacket in the future? “I’ve learned never to say never,” the Republican lawmaker told Insider NJ. “I’m considering a lot of options for the future but I have no plan in place to run at this time.”
Unlike “Geological Time”, in “Political Time” the 2021 election is still a way off, but nevertheless, rumblings have already begun as to whom might look to challenge Governor Phil Murphy. Previously, Schepisi had said in her own conversations with Democrats and unaffiliated voters that she was told the governor’s policy positions were too far left for the typical New Jerseyan. Despite this, Democrats have almost one million more registered party members than Republicans, presenting a steep hill for any GOP candidate eyeing the chief executive seat. On the federal level, even the well-heeled Bob Hugin, former Celgene Corp. executive, was unable to displace the embattled US Senator Bob Menendez, who himself could only muster 62% in a primary against activist Lisa McCormick with no funding or campaign apparatus to speak of.
If Schepisi did launch a run, she could find herself in a challenging environment, given the overall strength enjoyed by the Democratic Party—despite being a house thoroughly divided against itself—and potential competition from NJ GOP Chairman Douglas J. Steinhardt and former District 16 Assemblyman Jack M. Ciattarelli. Nevertheless, the Republican brand as a whole in New Jersey appears to be recovering, following some gains in the November 2019, most notably the election of State Senator Mike Testa in LD-1 who defeated Bob Andrzejczak, selected to fill the vacancy left by Jeff Van Drew.
As for Schepisi, representing a northern star in an otherwise dimmed New Jersey Republican constellation, she said she would “talk about a whole host of options for the future” with her family. January will mark eight years of her time in the State Assembly and, for the moment, it remains to be seen whether she will continue her public service in that direction. Should she seek to unseat the most institutionally powerful multi-millionaire governor in the country, it could mean a potential clash with her own party chairman in a state whose tide has only just crested from the 2018 Blue Wave. “Right now I’m just keeping an open mind to whatever opportunities make sense.”